Written by Mandy McGee
Atropines Creations and Oddities is artistry made by Atropine Steele who currently resides in New Jersey. She designs Victorian Gothic jewelry, hair accessories, wearable taxidermy, alters clothing, and other various oddities. Atropine also sometimes sells vintage, hand painted clothes and custom made creations. I am going to get her to make me a necklace with a picture of my brain from my MRI. I will show off the picture once it is made.
Atropine by Forma Photography
Mandy: How did you name your company?
Atropine: Atropines Creations and oddities is the name I give my artwork. I couldn’t decide between creations or oddities so I used both. I know the name is a little long but it’s unique.
Mandy: Where were you born?
Atropine: I was born in a little town called Mineola, its somewhere on Long Island.
Mandy: What kind of art do you make? Why?
Atropine: I like to make Victorian Gothic jewelry. I usually let my brain take over, it seems to feel complete when creating this type of art. I also enjoy abstract stuff, but more an a canvas as opposed to a necklace. I also enjoy modeling.
Mandy: Have you always been an artist?
Atropine: I’ve been an artist since I was able to hold a marker. I can thank my loving mother for letting me use her supplies as a small child. She was the one that encouraged me.
Mandy: How did you learn your craft?
Atropine: I taught myself how to make jewelry. In fact, that’s how I learned most of the different mediums I like to work with.
Mandy: What has been a seminal experience?
Atropine: My entire past has been a seminal experience. Growing up in the type of household that I did really molded me into the person that I am today. My parents had undergone the worst divorce I had ever heard of, this is back before divorces were popular. I took a turn for a negative direction forcing me into creating art. I can thank this terrible experience for my artworks.
Mandy: What materials do you use in making your art and why?
Atropine: I like to use metal, bones and paint as these are some of my favorite things. I chose theses materials because they are fun and easy to use. Sometimes I go back to my roots and play with acrylics and a big old canvas.
Mandy: What work do you most enjoying doing?
Atropine: My favorite medium is acrylic paint. I just wish I had more time to paint these days. I am a busy girl, I have many names
Mandy: How has your work changed since you started?
Atropine: Since I started making art, my work has changed drastically since I get bored easily. I used to only paint. I guess the mediums have changed more than my actual work. I feel that I am a better artist today than 10 years ago, I have more time and knowledge on my side.
Mandy: What’s your favourite piece that you have done?
Atropine: My favorite piece is the reproduction of Odd Nerdrum’s “the back”. I think thats the name.
Mandy: Do you listen to music when you are creating? What do you like to listen to?
Atropine: I do listen to music, mostly 80s Goth music and some 70s Goth. 70s Goth is similar to disco but it’s so awesome.
Mandy: What do you think is integral to the work of an artist?
Atropine: The most important thing to me is making people happy. If a something of mine finds its way to someone and they love to wear it, it makes me happy.
Mandy: What role does art have in society?
Atropine: Art in society plays many roles as we are influenced by it daily. Just listen to the radio or watch tv, the stars will be wearing the latest creation from the hottest designer. Without art there is nothing really.
Mandy: What’s your strongest memory of your childhood?
Atropine: The strongest Memory in my childhood, hmmm. I remember lots, sadly they are always bad things that happened. Never the good things. I remember when I fell and scraped my knees on orange bricks that were decorating my Mother’s garden. I think I was 2.
Mandy: What’s your scariest experience?
Atropine: Scariest experience. I’d have to say it was when I almost fell off the side of a mountain while skiing when I was young. I was too close to the edge of the cliff and I slipped. I somehow managed to not fall off, dodge some trees and almost smash into a boulder. My Father saw the whole thing and was amazed at how I didn’t die.
Mandy: Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?
Atropine: A real life situation that inspired me was my parent’s divorce. It really fueled my fire.
Mandy: What’s your most embarrassing moment?
Atropine: I’ve had many embarrassing moments, like walking into tables. I do have to say when I was 7 I was afraid of the tupperware lady and ran head first into the corner of a mirrored wall. Blood was gushing everywhere. My poor Mother.
Mandy: What jobs have you done other than being an artist?
Atropine: I have had many jobs, mostly because I get bored. Once I can’t move up anymore I find another job and continue my learning. One of my favorite jobs was being a jewelers apprentice.
Mandy: What is your favourite or most inspirational place?
Atropine: My favorite place is Arizona, mostly Sedona. When I am there I feel at peace. If I can’t get to AZ I’ll take a nice, quiet hike in the woods.
Mandy: What memorable responses have you had to your work?
Atropine: Memorable responses to my work. I’ve had people tell me they love their pieces so much that they would wear them everyday.
Mandy: What is your dream project?
Atropine: My dream project, to create an entire line of products so that name brand stores could carry them. Everyone should own an Atropine’s original piece even if it is mass produced.
Mandy: Name three artists you’d like to be compared to.
Atropine: I don’t wish to be compared to anyone. I am not here for competition, just to make others happy.
Mandy: What artists do you most identify with?
Atropine: My favorite artists of all time are Odd Nerdrum, Dahli, Ralph Steadman, Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Mandy: What superpower would you have and why?
Atropine: Superpower, to heal people. I hate to hear or see people in pain and there is nothing I can do to help. If I could heal, my life would be complete.
Mandy: Professionally, what’s your goal?
Atropine: My goal professionally is to get my products into name brand stores, I want everyone to own one of my artworks.
Mandy: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given and what advice would you give others?
Atropine: Best advice. Be yourself, wouldn’t you rather be a leader than a follower? It seems there are too many sheep and not enough shepards. I would tell others the same thing and let art tell you what to do, its a way to express yourself and release your inner demons.
Thank you for interviewing me!!
Places you can check out Atropines Creations and Oddities
She wrote this on her facebook page and I really like it.
"I have to give my mother the credit, she taught me to be myself.
At a young age I was given markers to play with, I would doodle endlessly.
Most kids were playing and making friends, I was hiding in my room, drawing, alone.
I was never like any of the other kids at school, they would call me names.
I was told I was too crafty by another student, like it was a bad thing.
I was a loner.
I would always find comfort in art, it was my safe place.”
Written by Morgue Anne
Monster of My Heart is an independent creator of jewelry and accessories from Spain. Working hard to bring her dark dreams to life, Imelda works tirelessly to create her pieces. Even though English is not her first language, she was kind and patient enough to tell me about her process.
Stephanie StripedSocks Lady, available for purchase on etsy.
Morgue Anne for Extollere: What materials do you use for your jewelry and accessories?
Monster of my Heart: I use specially polymer clay and metal. I have found an special kind of flexible polymer clay, so all my works created with this material are super durable and unbreakable, as super strong rubber. About metals, I have a little jewelry studio here in my country, where my husband and me work specially with sterling silver and also copper and brass. We work using artisan and traditional jewelry methods. We combine all that with other new materials and contemporary techniques.
MA: Which piece is your favorite?
Monster of my Heart: That’s a great question! Maybe I like especially the sterling silver creations made in collaboration with my husband, elaborated with an ancient method (casting in sand). I love to create also sugar skulls and happy mini skulls as brooches or key chains in polymer clay. I have received today a fantastic purchase of more than 12 kilograms of flexible polymer clay.
MA: Where do you get your ideas from?
Monster of my Heart: When I was a little girl, I don’t like princess or pink color: I liked witches and monsters. As now. So I return with my mind many times to my childhood looking for creepy and cute ideas. I also love works as the incredible paintings of Juan de Valdés Leal, a great painter from the Spanish Baroque (you can read more info here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juan_de_Vald%C3%A9s_Leal). Of course, I have a great influence of Tim Burton, specially because that’s what my audience demands. Many times, I get ideas from my brother, who taught me to love scary things, like a good big brother.
MA: I love your Corpse Bride necklace! Do you plan to do more large pieces like that?
Monster of my Heart: This sterling silver jewel is another collaboration with my husband, a great specialist in sand casting. The first one was a custom order (petitioned by an Spanish client). We loved the final result, so we decide to show it immediately on The Monster Of My Heart shop. Since then, we have sold some of them, always created by order and always shipped outside Spain. We bought the original doll from the USA to create this pendants. In this moment, we are not thinking in create more pieces of the Corpse Bride, but we can elaborate any work by order with the preferences of the client.
MA: How does living in Spain effect your art? Have you ever traveled to the US?
Monster of my Heart: The global situation in Spain is not too easy now for nobody, but maybe it’s a little bit hard if you are an artist. Something needs to change and many people is beginning to wake up. I’m speaking about the Spanish Revolution, a new pacific social movement of the ordinary people who are tired of living with lots of economic difficulties while Spanish politicians and bankers are billionaires. Many people have lost their jobs, many families have lost their home, but our corrupt politicians are just worried by themselves and their mansions. Ordinary people have not much money now, so this situation is not specially easy for sell artisan creations.
At the same time, many people are “narcotized” by the mass media with hours and hours of Spanish football. So too many persons can’t see farther of the football: they can’t see their real problems and they neither can’t see the value of any artisan work. The football in Spain is like the circus at the Antique Roman Empire (but the players have millions and millions of euros and there aren’t any lion waiting for them… unfortunately).
I have never traveled to USA, but… why not? Most of my Etsy customers are from USA. I have also clients from the rest of Europe, as Germany, France, Italy … Sales inside my own country … about three or four. Usually, my work shown on Etsy travels to USA. As I have said, the situation at my country is not very good. Maybe our future is not here, in Spain. My husband and me think about it many times, specially after watching the TV news. But really we don’t know which side of the world we have to choose…
We also are creating and selling button badges and many other “not creepy” handmade accessories from polymer clay. We are selling our work through Etsy, but here in Spain we are selling our creations at craft fairs by all the country (and also at medieval markets and historic recreations). Our work is very varied, so we can’t live at Halloween all the time: we have many styles!
By other side, I also love vintage times. So I have created a new Etsy shop (Etsy is a little addictive for me…). In this shop, called Pear Age (http://www.etsy.com/shop/pearage), I’m selling Spanish vintage and the answer of the public is really good.
You can find more of Monster of my Heart’s work on Etsy .
All photo credits Monster of my Heart and available for sale.